RF Video Shoot Interview with Bobby Heenan

This interview
was filmed at some point in 2002. It lasts about an hour and forty-five minutes
long.
 

Heenan said
he got his start in wrestling by setting up the rings and carrying the jackets
in Indianapolis. When he saw matches as a kid, he was amazed by the control the
wrestlers had over the crowd. He also jokes how he wanted to be a wrestler just so
he could mess with people.

 

He started
off as a manager and at the time, he only weighed 180lbs. He said the key to
manage is to act like a wrestler and for a wrestler, it is to work like a
manager. He said that is a lost art today and that everyone wants T & A
instead of a manager.

 

He then
said that he went from manager to wrestler as he wanted to make more money. He
lists all the places that he worked as a manager and said that Paul Boesch in Houston gave the best
payouts. He calls him a good man. When asked about working for Ole Anderson in Georgia, he
said that he was horrible and had no respect for human beings.

 

He first
traveled with Blackjack Lanza, Pepper Gomez, Wilbur Snyder, and Baron Von
Raschke. He adds that he had fun but made no money. Heenan then adds that he
should have spoken up more about getting paid more.

 

When asked
who taught him to wrestle, Heenan said that Ray Stevens taught him a lot but
you mostly learn by watching. He then said how you would get better if you
wanted to be there. From that, he said that guys can work but not put asses in
seats while Hogan can put asses in seats and not a great worker. Heenan then
tells us that Gorilla Monsoon taught him that if you were in this business for
anything more than money, you were a fool.

 

Heenan is
asked about guys he worked with in the AWA. He liked the Crusher and thought he
was easy to work with. He said that Ray Stevens was hilarious outside of the
ring and that he told him to always have fun with what you do. He then tells a
story of how Stevens told him that he had his first woman at age six and when
Heenan asks him what he did, Stevens replied that he was too drunk to remember.
He liked Verne then joked about how he would make guys do horrible things like
show up on time and work. He liked Nick Bockwinkle then added that If you asked
him for the time, he would tell you how to build a watch.

 

Up next is
how Hogan was in the AWA. Heenan said that Verne wanted him to be heel and team
up with Johnny Valiant, who he calls a horrible human beign. He then says that
Valiant couldn’t get over by turning on a light. He knew Hogan would be a star
the first time he saw him in the locker room at Georgia in 1979.

 

When asked
if Verne pushed his son too hard, Heenan said that he didn’t push him enough
and joked that he should have pushed him off a cliff.

 

Heenan said
that Verne couldn’t change with the times and did not know how to go up against
Vince McMahon’s showbiz mentality and that is what killed the AWA. He said that
he left there because he knew they were going nowhere. He gives some names for
the AWA like “Alzhimer’s Wretling Association” and “All the World’s Assholes.”
He then adds that guys like Nick Gulas, Stu Hart, and Eddie Graham also
struggled to keep up with modern times.

 

He said that
he only worked a few times for Eddie Graham and said he was strict. Heenan then
claims that wrestlers are flakes because the business makes them that way. They
are not given any benefits and when they get paid, they spend freely. He also
said that wrestlers are guys who did not want regular jobs. He never worked for
Stu but thought it would be hell, due to the weather and travel. He jokes that
when you land in Canada,
they tell you to set your watch back to 1945. He adds that he likes Stu, Helen,
and Bret.

 

He is asked
how he wound up in the WWF. Heenan said that Hogan got him the job. He called
Vince and was offered three times more than what he was making in the AWA.

 

He said
that he first met Vince in Chicago.
At the time, Vince was there for the Inoki/Ali stuff and at breakfast,
approached Vince. He blew off Heenan but said that Vince was always nice to him
when he worked for the WWF.

 

Heenan is
asked about Big John Studd and Ken Patera. He said that Studd was too nice to
be in wrestling and that Patera should have been a heel his whole life, stating
that he was pampered from his days in amateur sports.

 

He is now
asked if Hogan was difficult to work with. Heenan said that Hogan never changed
and that guys did not like him because they were not able to work with him de
to the fact they would not be able to draw money with him. Heenan said that the
worst person in the world would have been working with him if they could draw.

 

When asked
about Piper, Heenan said that he always knew he would get over as he could talk
and that would get you more over than your work or physique.

 

Next,
Heenan is asked how he became a good talker. He said that he learned to talk
while shaving in the mirror. He said when you did that, you could be whatever
you want and how you saw yourself is how the crowd would see you. He then adds
how most interviewers today resort to using clichés and they cannot get over.
He finishes by saying that the wrestlers shouldn’t dress like the guys who buy
the tickets.

 

Heenan was
asked about Orndorff. He said that he was an intense guy who cared about how he
looked and was concerned about his image. He adds that Orndorff always tried to
improve and was a professional. He also said that he still speaks to him.

 

He said
that Andre the Giant hated people and was always rude when approached.

 

Heenan is
asked about kayfabe and protecting the business. He mentions that kayfabe does
not exist anymore and how when he started, they protected the business and had
the mentality they could not sell any tickets if they knew it was all fake. He
then adds that stuntmen don’t show how to perform stunts.

 

He said
that he did not like managing the Missing Link. He notes how Link once told him
to get his boarding pass for him because his character didn’t speak. Heenan
notes how he would have hated to have been an actual manager for people,
comparing it to an adult babysitter.

 

Heenan is
asked if he had other behind the scene roles. He said that he produced
interviews in the WWF. He said that most of the guys were easy to work with but
the Ultimate Warrior could not be produced. He didn’t mind when guys like Piper
and Lou Albano did their own thing. He said that Vince didn’t mind if the stars
went off and adds that you need to treat people differently to run a business.

 

Heenan said
that he got the Primetime Wrestling job when Jesse Ventura left to film the Predator.
After that, he went on to do commentary on Challenge and the Madison Square Garden
shows. He is then asked about the tension between Ventura and Hogan. Heenan
said that Ventura was jealous of Hogan because he wanted to be like his idol,
Superstar Billy Graham, but Hogan was more popular. He also said that Ventura could
talk but once the bell rang, Ventura couldn’t stay over because he was not
entertaining and never bumped.

 

Heenan
calls Gorilla Monsoon one of the best friends he ever had. He puts him over for
being kind but always honest. He then said that they never really rehearsed for
Primetime Wrestling and just winged it right before the show and whenever they
messed up, they would just laugh it off. He always looked forward to being with
him.

 

Still
speaking about Monsoon, Heenan said that he always told him that wrestling was
entertainment. He then said how he loved the “Brain” gimmick as if he screwed
up it didn’t matter as he was expected to be stupid. He then says how guys care
too much about their image nowadays.

 

When asked
about the Terry Taylor/Brooklyn Brawler feud, he said it was an embarrassment.
Heenan said that Taylor was never going to be a top guy and Lombardi could not
brawl. Heenan then makes a comparison between a limo and a cab driver by
stating the only difference between the two is that the limo driver wears a
suit. He then briefly mentions how Taylor was a liar to him in WCW.

 

He said
that the Andre haircut angle was the one that stuck out the most and jokes that
Studd had the hair for so long that it started to turn gray. He then tells a
story when he as flying with Andre, who liked to have a few drinks in the
morning. He was approached by the stewardess when he was struggling to lift the
arms of the seat and asked for a screwdriver. After fifteen minutes, she came
back with an actual screwdriver instead of the drink. Andre then asked her what
she would have brought him if he asked for a bloody mary.

 

Up next is
how the “Bobby Heenan Show” came about. He said that it was Vince’s idea. The WWF
had a contract with USA for two hours of wrestling and cut Primetime Wrestling
to an hour-and-a-half to make room for the show but USA didn’t consider the
show wrestling and it was scrapped after four episodes. As far as the show, he
said it was hard to time laughs without an audience. He also like Jameson and
said that Vince picked him out.

 

Heenan said
that Rick Rude was hard to manage because he thought he could get over on his
own. Rude thought Heenan was trying to steal his heat.

 

He tells
another story about Andre. When he was working with the Ultimate Warrior, Andre
was getting upset because he didn’t like to be clotheslined and wanted to time
when he leaned on the ropes and that was hard to do with the Warrior, who would
run at him full speed ahead. One night, Andre put up his hand and stopped
Warrior in his tracks as he attempted a clothesline. The next night, after Warrior
clotheslined Andre the way he wanted to, Andre leaned over to Heenan and said
that he was learning. Heenan said that if Andre didn’t like you, he would try
to ruin your matches. He would mess with the Iron Sheik and Heenan said that
Andre hated him because Sheik would take advantage of the jobbers. Heenan said that
most of the jobbers were awful wrestlers but they also had full-time jobs and
basically just wrestled on the weekends. He then says he always wondered why
they would give them spots, knowing that they couldn’t work a lick.

 

He loved
managing Flair, calling him a fun guy to be around. He also loved Curt Hennig.

 

Heenan said
that he stopped managing because his neck was acting up and when he was doing
commentary, he didn’t get touched by the wrestlers. For that reason, he liked
commentary better than managing.

 

His
favorites in the ring to work with were Pepper Gomez, Red Bastein, High Flyers,
and Mad Dog Vachon. His least favorite was Warrior because he had no respect
for wrestlers.

 

Next, he is
asked about the WWF Sex Scandal. Heenan said that no one in the locker room
cared and compares it to people in the music business finding out that
musicians smoke dope.

 

He is asked
about several other workers. He liked Haku and called him the toughest man he
had ever met. He liked the British Bulldogs and said that they were one of the
best tag-teams of all-time and did stuff that other teams could not do. He didn’t
spend a lot of time with Randy Savage and Elizabeth so did not say much other
than he thought Elizabeth was nice and that he managed Randy’s dad in the 1960’s.
He calls Jake Roberts and Ted Dibiase the best on interviews. He then said that
Jake had a lot of mental problems. He liked the Brainbusters but said Tully had
a personality problem.

 

Heenan said
that he never read or watched a wrestling book or movie. He thinks that people
are out to knock them and said he can make a fool out of himself.

 

He left the
WWF on good terms but was tired of the traveling and wanted to take a year off.
WCW then made him an offer an it would put him closer to his daughter in
Alabama.

 

In WCW, he
was started on the Sunday night show then moved to Saturday Night once Jesse
quit. He said that Bischoff was a used car salesman who got into wrestling. He
compares Bischoff to Walmart and Vince to Neiman Marcus. He then adds that the
decision to beat Goldberg is what killed wrestling. He brings up the difference
between WCW and WWF when telling a story of how Mark McGwire wanted to meet
Goldberg. McGwire and Goldberg were at the park and McGwire rubbed his bat on
Goldberg’s chest and went on to hit 70 home runs that year. Heenan said that
WCW did not send anyone in to film that where Vince would have had a camera
crew and produced multiple pieces.

 

When asked
about the incident at the Clash of the Champions between him and Brian Pillman,
Heenan thought it was a fan that grabbed him at first. He said that you watch
the monitors during the show and was worried about his neck when he was
grabbed.

 

Heenan said
that no one knew what they were doing in WCW. He said that Tony Schiavone was
the worst because he hated the fans and the wrestlers. He also knew all the
finishes and angles but would not disclose them to him or Tenay, because he
thought that knowledge was power.

 

Heenan said
he liked when Vince changed the concept of RAW. He then said that guys would
leave the room to get a beer during squash matches and would wait for the
interviews. He thought it made for better television. Heenan also adds that
there are too many PPV’s and that the TV is just as good as them so why pay for
something you can see on TV.

 

He then
says that he never looked at fans as “marks” because those guys made them money
and allowed them to feed their families. He then makes a joke about relatives
saying how they are like fish in that after a few days, they start to stink.

 

Back to
Monsoon, Heenan said he kept in touch with him until the day he died. He
recalls the day of his last WWF appearance when he got tossed out of the
building on RAW. In the hotel, Heenan had a basket of fruit in his room and
asked Gorilla to come meet him and they met in the hallway and he said they
cried for an hour.

 

Back to
WCW, Heenan said he was constantly disrespected. One time, he came up with an
idea and proposed it to Bischoff and was told that he was just an announcer and
that we came up with the ideas. After that, Heenan said he lost all desire and
was just there for the paycheck and nothing else. When he announced, he wouldn’t
even get the booking sheet until the third match. Heenan is asked what he would
have done to turn around WCW and he joked that he would have rolled a grenade
into the dressing room.

 

WCW asked
him to manage but he declined and he was never told who he was going to manage.

 

He said
that Scott Hall was very talented but listened to a lot of bad advice. He then
tells us that Hall hated the toothpick tossing routine but Heenan told him to
throw it into the camera and that worked. He said that Kevin Nash was big but
not special.

 

Heenan then
says that he does not take credit for getting anyone over as it would have had
to been due to the wrestler as well. He does add that the Valiant’s are the
exception to this rule, calling them useless.

 

He then
says that he would have had Goldberg go 3,000-0 then actually brings up, while
prefacing that he is not trying to be racist, how TV is mostly run by Jewish guys
and that Goldberg was Jewish and that could have worked. He then adds that they
also could have used his football background to make him a star. He also says
that if someone wasn’t selfish, WCW would still be around today and 200 people
would still be employed.

 

When asked
how he got replaced by Mark Madden, he said that he called out sick two days in
six years. This time, he had strep throat and could barely talk and called
Schiavone. When he came back, he found out that Taylor replaced him.

 

He said that
Vince Russo didn’t have a clue and was a disgrace who thought he knew how to
change things.

 

Heenan said
that if he was approached for advice by the younger wrestlers, he told them
what worked for him might not work for them but if you pretended that what you
were doing was real, it would work out.

 

Heenan said
that he found out that Vince bought WCW when someone called him. He thinks that
Vince only bought it for the tape collection.

 

When asked
who was responsible for the failure of WCW, he said that it was the guy who was
in charge, which was either Bischoff or Harvey Schiller. He said that he did
not know about locker room politics as the wrestlers had a “do not enter” sign
on the door that was guarded by Doug Dillinger, who Heenan refers to as “donuts.”
Heenan then tells us that Dillinger used to be a cop but mainly just rode the
motorcycle at funerals.

 

He is asked
about the different styles of wrestling. He said that they could have saved
money with the luchadores by having two guys and twelve different costumes. HE
then said that the garbage brawling got old quickly.

 

Heenan then
said that he never had talks with ECW. He called Vince when WCW went under and
had fun at WrestleMania but doesn’t want to work a full-time schedule on the road.
He said that he would like to do commercials and work on his book. He also does
not believe that wrestling will be around much longer because without
competition, Vince will get stagnant.

 

Back to
WrestleMania 17, Heenan said that he had a great time. He really liked the
Dudley’s, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko. He also had a great time catching
up with the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Hillbilly Jim.

 

He loved
working the WOW PPV. He then said that this is all entertainment and if you
want wrestling, go watch Iowa University.

 

He talks
about Mike Tenay and jokes that he is so straight-laced that he can make coffee
nervous. He then adds how he would love to do a radio show with him.

 

When asked
about using dated references in WCW, Heenan said that at times Bischoff told
him not to say anything.

 

Heenan says
that managing made him a lot of money and he chose to “trip and distract”
rather than attend law or medical school.

 

He is asked
about his appearance on the “Arsenio Hall Show.” Heenan said that in the
dressing room, there was food and his wife wanted to take everything and he didn’t
think it was for him and told her to not take anything like the Valiant’s would
have. After the show, Heenan was hungry and he was asked if he got any food so
Arsenio sent him another basket and a doll for his daughter.  Heenan calls Arsenio a class act.

 

Now Heenan
is asked about several wrestlers. He said that Abdullah the Butcher was a fat
guy with a fork and called him useless. He calls Jerry Lawler a good hand and
said he was lucky to survive in a small territory. Heenan said that Memphis was
a place that you went when you started out or when you were finishing up. He said
that Don Muraco was a good guy and joked that he had good weed. He calls Jimmy
Valiant a pig. He also said that Mr. Fuji was a great guy and would paint your
nails or shave off your eyebrows if you went to sleep on the plane. He said
that David Schultz was a redneck before it became cool but also believes that
he thought wrestling was real.

 

He then
says that he never liked Bruiser Brody, as he was selfish. He just wanted to
stick it to the promoter and would ruin matches and destroy territories for his
own reasons while disregarding the fact that other wrestlers had to work in
those territories and could be losing a job. Heenan believes that as a main
eventer, you owe it to the rest of the card to be professional and do what is
right instead of screwing over the guys who have to come back and work the
territory.

 

He tells a
story of Owen Hart approaching him on his last night with the WWF. Owen asked
him why he was leaving and after Heenan told him, Owen said that he was going
to miss him and it would be a big loss and shook his hand. Heenan said that he
was not approached by everyone on his last day.

 

Heenan
gives his thoughts on the “Montreal Screwjob” incident and said that id he was
Bret, he would have put over Shawn because he was in this for money. He says
that double-crosses happen everywhere. He then adds how if you were offered
$1,000 a week to do jobs and $500 a week to be the champ, some guys would still
want to be the champion.

 

He squashes
the rumor that Andre was going to refuse to job to Hogan at WrestleMania III.
Heenan said that Andre knew this was his last chance for a big payday.

 

Heenan
believes that if Goldberg started off in the WWF, he would get over more than
Austin. He says that Austin swears a lot and that Goldberg was a bigger guy.

 

About his
broken neck, Heenan said that it occurred in Japan when Onita landed on his
head after a middle rope leg drop in 1983 but he didn’t get it fixed until 1995
when he went to WCW.

 

He jokes
how women are the toughest species on earth because they can bleed once a month
for a week and survive.

 

He said that
a union would never happen in wrestling because no one would trust each other
and guys would end up getting blackballed.

 

He never
had interest working for Watts as he did not want to work seven days a week.

 

He would
have liked to manage Hogan as he could have made a lot of money and he was easy
to travel with.

 

Heenan does
a Jim Barnett impression then jokes about where the pacifier went when he was a
kid.

 

He is asked
about the current stars in the WWF. He likes HHH but thinks he needs to lose
the black trunks and the water. He calls the Rock a great talker.

 

Heenan says
that he has no regrets but wihsed he would have stood up for himself and others
about getting paid better.

 

The interview
closes with Heenan saying the magic is over as everyone knows how they perform
the tricks. He says that he is writing a book and blesses the memories and the
fans.

 

 

Final Thoughts: A tremendous interview. Heenan was
insightful and hilarious the whole time. He did not hold any grudges and seemed
genuinely happy about his career. I highly recommend this interview, which was
a breeze to watch.